Michael Waitzer brings an innovative and down to earth approach to the re-invention or next stage development of your Retail Brand through the Story that you are Telling and the Culture that you are Building.

Is your Retail CIO worth a healthy six-figure salary????

There continues to be debate surrounding defining the role and value of the CIO to a retail organization.

CIO Performance in Retail OrganizationsI take the position that the CIO should be sitting at the strategic table. I also believe that they should be held as accountable for and rewarded based on the performance of the business, like all senior executives.

So what makes a worthy Retail Chief Information Officer that comfortably earns the respect and support of the CEO and other execs of your business????

First, they must understand the business. Not superficially, rather a thorough understanding in terms of key profit drivers, the measurements used by the executive team, the forward business plan including growth strategies/opportunities and the levers that may be used to alter, change, improve the businesses’ results. They must have a comfort level and a fluency in the Store Operations, Finance, Product/Merchandising and the Supply Chain side of your business.

Next, they must speak The Language! Whether Chinese, Hindi or English, every business has a culture and nuance in its way of speaking. The CIO must be able to make everyone around the table understand what the IT group is doing, wants to do and the value it will add. The CIO must accept that like a shoemaker, they have a specialized craft and while people like to wear shoes, most have no idea how they are made.

Keep solutions simple. In many instances, a process review and/or modest enhancements provide a solution and avoid yet another new system or upgrade.

Be a good listener! Understand the immediate and mid term priorities of the CEO and the business users. Listen and understand any tech frustrations within the organization. It is remarkable how much credibility can be achieved for fixing something like a glitch in the internal office calendar, or ensuring that a weekly Key Performance Indicator screen is easy to read.  After hearing the priorities of the business, invest IT resources commensurate to the CEO/business those priorities.  I.e. don’t waste time and money!

After being a good listener, a worthy CIO must be an excellent communicator. A great CIO can explain the activities of their group to all levels of the business. They will be great at managing expectations on a rolling basis. Nothing is worse than a CIO who over promises, except perhaps one who delivers late!

Now, if you are the CEO and believe that you have a CIO as described here, then you have some obligations to both them and the business [yourself] to maximize their potential value.

Setting expectations of ROI at the outset of any “idea” will avoid both frustrations and wasted time for many people.

Make sure that the CIO is included in strategic discussions from the start. Ensure that they have the ability to stay current.

Watch that they have a good working relationship with the CFO, CMO, and Head of Operations.

Finally, while it sounds ridiculously simple and obvious; make sure that the CIO is a user – let them read the reports, use the website, run the mobile apps etc.  Imagine the CIO for your retail business being someone that has never shopped online! Perhaps, the end users of their products should do part of their annual performance review? [The website, internal reports, internal data mining processes etc.]

My point of view is clear, a CIO who comprises these skills, in addition to the technical requirements, certainly deserves a seat at the decision making table, but I will leave the salary discussion to you…